Most parents have, at one time or another, become frustrated with a child who is less than appreciative of everything that we parents do for them. If you have young kids, you can forget about being genuinely appreciated for all that you do simply because children have no way of knowing just how impossible their lives would be without the caring hand of parents. While you may not get the thanks that you deserve while your kids are young, there are important lessons that you can teach them throughout their lives so that, hopefully, as they enter adulthood, they can start to realize how much you sacrificed for them and begin to show their genuine gratitude for you. Here are 3 different strategies for fostering gratitude:
1. Train them young
Teach your little ones gratitude as soon as they are able to communicate. By teaching them good manners through using words like "please" and "thank you," you foster gratitude at a young age. When your children say please and thank you they are showing respect for others, including their parents. While it is possible to learn about gratitude through experience and personal awareness, teaching principles of gratitude and appreciation are definitely beneficial to helping your kids to realize how important it is to recognize when others do nice things for us.
2. Learn how to say "no"
Opposition is a principle that goes hand in hand with learning gratitude. If your children are never allowed to see or experience bad things in life, they can never fully appreciate the good that exists. You are not doing anyone any favors by spoiling your children. If your kids get everything that they ask for, they will have a much harder time realizing just how grateful they should be with what they have. Set limits for yourself and for your kids. As a parent you want to do what is best for your kids and sometimes that means saying no.
3. Lead by example
Give generously to those who are less fortunate to show children how much they have to be grateful for. We tend to learn things better and retain lessons for a longer period of time when we experience a principle first hand and internalize a lesson for ourselves. Instead of constantly lecturing your children about gratitude, be sure that you provide them with an example of gratitude by fostering that principle within yourself. This principle is especially true as your children become older and start to tune out what parents say. Remember that actions speak louder than words.
Naturally, not all who are reading this article have a clean slate to work with, so it is important to address the topic of dealing with ungrateful children who are grown. While you may not have the advantage of teaching them about being grateful while they are young, you can still apply many of the same principles of appreciation to them. If your grown children are constantly asking you to do things for them and never showing their gratitude, start learning how to say no. Again, lead by example rather than constantly lecturing, no one response well to being scolded, especially adults. Eventually you may have to let adult children live like adults and start doing things for themselves. In a sense you need to take the important step of cutting them loose. Once on their own, your child or children can see for themselves just how much it takes to live comfortably and through this experience will hopefully come to realize for themselves just how grateful they should have been for you as a parent.